Savannah State Receives Over $1M in New Research Grants

Kai Shen, Ph.D, assistant professor in chemistry and forensic science.
Kai Shen, Ph.D, assistant professor in chemistry and forensic science.

Savannah State University (SSU) has been approved for three new grants that total $1,041,153 in funding. All three will include student researchers and focus on STEM-related fields.

A grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will allow SSU to develop and implement an undergraduate certificate program in the technical, logistical, policy, research and commerce-related issues of the transportation industry. According to the grant description written by Jonathan Lambright, Ph.D., dean of the College of Sciences and Technology (COST), and  Suman Niranjan, Ph.D., associate professor for operations management, College of Business Administration (COBA), “The project will prepare students to think beyond current models and existing transportation infrastructure, to develop new paradigms and to conduct meaningful research to help meet the changing transportation needs of the 21st century.” The three-year grant totals $399,548.

Two grant awards have been recommended under the FY2015 Department of Defense Research and Education Program for Historically Black College and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions (HBCU/MI).  The grants are in support of research programs conducted at SSU.

Pascal Binda, Ph.D., assistant professor in chemistry and forensic science, was awarded a grant of $326,633 from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The three-year funding will allow Binda and students to research polymer chemistry. Specifically, they want to develop a new biodegradable polyester that doesn’t require reinforcement. Such a product could be used to make boat hulls, pipes and other hard plastic items. The polyester would have practical applications for both military and civilian life.

Kai Shen, Ph.D, assistant professor in chemistry and forensic science, was also awarded a grant by the DoD. The $314,972 three-year grant will fund research on metavinculin, a chemical that appears in cardiac and skeletal muscles. Very little is known about this essential protein except that it is used in muscle reactions to mechanical changes. In addition to having military applications, it has recently been discovered that medical patients with certain heart issues have a lack of metavinculin, which may mean the cardiac muscle is not being regulated properly.

All three grants will include hands-on laboratory research, project management, scientific writing and presentation aspects for students to engage in. Additionally, students will be prepared to engage in post-doctorate research and have published work.

About Savannah State University

Established in 1890, Savannah State University is the oldest public historically black college or university in Georgia and the oldest institution of higher learning in the city of Savannah.  The university’s 4,900 students select majors from 27 undergraduate and five graduate programs in three colleges — Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Business Administration and Sciences and Technology — and the School of Teacher Education.

Source: Savannah State University Office of Marketing/Communications

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